Reports of Superdome Deaths Greatly Exaggerated

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Lyle, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #1
    The New Orleans Times-Picayune is now reporting that "... the vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know."

    I wasn't sure whether to post this in the Politics forum or not. What interests me more about the story is how the urban legends about what was going on took on in the Superdome took on a life of their own, with the media and government officials quoting them as fact (sometimes after a little embellishment of their own).
     
  2. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #2
    Personally, I never saw any estimates in the media of the death toll in either the convention center or the Superdome. The fact that early reports were exaggerated is hardly surprising, given the conditions. Still this story made a statement that surprised me -- that 10-20,000 people were holed up in the convention center. This exceeds the estimates I'd heard previously by an order of magnitude.
     
  3. macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #3
    Well... it's good to know there were only a few atrocities instead of the many we heard about.

    Sorry, I get your point. But good news is not news, so the reporters do what they can to get a story. People were angry, and the media went with it (finally). It is good to know it wasn't as bad as first thought, but I can't say I'm comforted by it. Just proves that you have to take everything you hear with a grain of salt, even if you agree with it. Especially if you agree with it.

    Don't get me wrong though, I do appreciate you posting it, as sometimes it is nice to see the other side of things.
     
  4. macrumors 68040

    Daveway

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    #4
    I haven't read the article, but i think one of the final estimates was 18 deaths and 1 rape.

    There's also a lot of talk about tearing the Superdome down and starting over from scratch.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #5
    Please don't mistake my intentions. I wasn't posting it in an attempt to somehow diminish the suffering that people actually did go through while they were there.

    It was just interesting to me, for the reasons I stated previously. If I had the time, I'd like go back to try to find the actual news stories from a few weeks back to see what kinds of claims people were making at the time (e.g. the story I linked to makes references to several things that NOLA Police Chief Eddie Compass and Mayor Ray Nagin allegedly said).
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #6
    The tag line for this particular article is "6 bodies found at Dome; 4 at Convention Center":
    The article seems to also indicate that they hadn't confirmed any rapes, but acknowledges that rape is generally underreported and that it would be difficult to say for sure at this point.
     
  7. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    I'm not sure what is to be gained or proved by doing so. Everybody was feeding off rumors and fragmentary information for several days -- which is very much in the nature of such an event. We're only now, these many weeks later, getting any reasonably accurate tallies of deaths from the storm.
     
  8. macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #8
    I do find it odd how such wildly exaggerated tallies are often announced, especially in the States: 25,000 dead at the WTC, 25,000 dead in New Orleans. It almost makes one think there might be a political angle.
     
  9. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    Personally, I don't think so. As I recall, the WTC estimates were based on the number of people thought to be in the buildings. Nobody knew how many managed to get out for quite awhile afterwards, so it's easy to see why some would suggest that many deaths. The early New Orleans estimates were closer to 10,000. This figure was actually based on the disaster planning documents for New Orleans, which estimated that 10% of the people remaining in the city would be killed if the levees were breached.
     
  10. Ugg
    macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #10
    That's true, but I can't help but wonder about the reports of rape and murder and looting. How much were they manipulated? Was it just bad reporting or were the reporters being fed information? Obviously some of it did happen but I can't help but feel that the numbers were massaged for somebody's aims.
     
  11. macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #11
    probably bad information and/or conclusions on the reporters' part. e.g. maybe a reporter got reports from 10 people about a rape, all with differing details, but it turns out they were all talking about the same incident.

    on 7 july, the BBC et. al. overestimated the number of tube trains/stations bombed. at least once i'd heard the theory that, because the smoke and reports came out of several tube stops around a single incident, it drove up the estimate.
     
  12. macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #12
    I wonder about the reports of rescuers being routinely shot at as well. That was tossed around quite a bit by the pundits.
     
  13. macrumors demi-god

    LethalWolfe

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    #13
    Why do you feel this is any different than other huge media event? Being first gets more viewers than being right. And viewers tend to be lazy too. Even if every report was always prefaced by "going by unconfirmed reports" people would still assume the numbers/events to be hard and fast. Just like when someone is accused of a crime they tend to be viewed as guilty by the general public even though they are just a suspect (Richard Jewel for example).

    And, like IJ said, many times guesstimates are given to the media but those guesstimates quickly turn into "facts." It's like one giant game of telephone.


    Lethal
     
  14. macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #14
    As per the rest of my post. ;)
     
  15. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #15
    The Richard Jewell business was a function of really poor police work, so don't blame the media for that one. Also, you can't account for what people will assume absent the facts. At some point you are expecting far more from the media than you have any right to expect. If they report that something may have happened, and someone takes that to mean it did happen, then the error of judgment wasn't committed by the media.
     
  16. macrumors demi-god

    LethalWolfe

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    #16
    Agreed. That was the intent of the "lazy viewers" aspect of my post.


    Lethal
     
  17. macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #17
    I would really like to find out who the source of these claims was. I know that the media likes to pick up on the sensationalistic, but they do have some standards when it comes to who they take information from.

    I agree with Skunk, when it comes to a beneficial political angle.

    There have been numerous false stories spread about goings on in NO after the flood. Chaos being one angle, and abuse of debit cards being another. Who would benefit from people perceiving the situation to be something much more dangerous than what it was. Who would benefit from people, in general, thinking that the help being offered is being horribly abused?

    Follow the money?
     

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